This album is a long time coming. ATLAS OF MIGRAINE’s genesis began about six years ago when I visited a neurologist. I’ve had migraines for the last 16 years or so with little success in abating their pain. The medications are often worse than the migraines themselves. Most of the time I take a dangerous amount of Advil and stay in bed in the dark until I can stand direct sunlight and normal volume levels.
On that particular visit, Dr. Boothby showed me a book called Atlas of Migraine. It was a semi-clinical study of the origins and treatment for migraines. Fortunately for me it had a lot of pictures. Among other things it contained were artist’s depictions of migraine auras which I found fascinating. I ordered my own copy off Amazon and have it in my library.
I borrowed the title for an album and worked various sequences of songs over the years. None really fit. Nor did the original artwork. It was a bit too obvious and unsubtle in reference to actual migraines. Over the years it fiddled with it and changed it around
Eventually I settled on the final artwork which is a photo I took myself (a shot of Portland’s Back Bay at dawn that I took while walking the dog) then manipulated into its current state. The interior image of a volcano took a bit longer to source but eventually I found something that more subtly reflects the feel of my migraines. Together they make a good representation of the music within; a fragmented dark world of sounds and rhythms.
Some of the tracks have been in the works for almost ten years, longer than the album itself. At one point I wanted it to be a concept album about migraines. Fortunately I realized this was a hard sell, even for a guy like me who loves his high concepts. Over the years I toned it and tuned it down to a much less direct exploration of migraines. Suffice it so say that AOM still contains a lot of pain, anger and frustration in it, all of which are key instigators of migraines. But it also contains a lot of light, relief and release.
I’m loathe to go into an explanation behind the meaning of each and every song. I’ll let the songs and titles describe themselves. I will say the overall methods and means of production were the same that I discovered while during the recording of “The New Taxonomy.” I’ve been keeping the same headspace, low headroom and spaciousness in the recordings to make room for the sound. It’s really all about the space between the notes not the notes themselves, after all. If anything I’m trying to inject a little more deep bass into the mix while keeping things clear and clean. Perhaps a little more layering and working with things I usually avoid: dissonance, sudden breaks, fadeouts.
Special mention must be made for the sequencing of this album. And credit for that goes to Jay aka The Ears. During the last seven or eight years there have been more songs on this album and there have been less songs but for most of its gestation there were never the right songs. It began as an ep, then an album and then a double album (a hard thing to imagine in this day of digital releases). During one of its many “final” incarnations, just when I thought I had the perfect sequence down, Jay casually mentioned that AOM ran the risk of sounding like one long song. Once I recovered from fainting, I asked if Jay had a particular sequence in mind. He did and eventually presented me with a radical reworking of the album’s songs and sequence. After a bit of texting back and forth and shuffling things around on Dropbox, I put it together in his order and listened to it in one sitting.
It was perfect.
This is my first release on Heterodox Recordings. Heterodox was founded by Ramon Mills of Production Unit Xero. Ramon and I have a mutual label in Component Recordings and a mutual appreciation of each others music. I'm really excited to be a part of his label and I hope to make him proud with this release.
So I hope you enjoy this album, this Atlas of Migraine, my exploration of an internal topography not seen by many. And I hope it induces no pain but instead frees and inspires you.